It’s my first year and teaching chose me so I am a nervous wreck trying to make sure that I learn everything to successfully teach each student. I have read every book that was suggested and assigned in my alternative certification class. I survived the first six weeks of being a 6th grade math teacher but I still feel like I’m not reaching every learner. So, I requested a half day from my principal so that I could observe veteran teachers to try and discover any strategies that may help me reach every student. However, I left my observations with no bright ideas to add to my tool belt. On top of being a nervous wreck, I was now confused.
I saw each teacher teaching the material per our required schedule set within our administration department meeting. I saw each teacher using the material that was discussed and suggested as a supplement to the adopted textbook. I saw some students learning and engaged but many were not as they seem to be the highest and lowest students in the class. One particular teacher ignored off task behavior and told me that she addressed it by answering questions from those who paid attention to the lesson first and if she didn’t get to the others then it was their fault. The higher students were done with the independent practice and were content doodling or talking amongst their friends. The lowest students (whether paying attention or not to the lesson taught) weren’t attempting to complete the assignment on their own and when the teacher did not address their hands up then they checked out. They talked, doodled, asked to go to the restroom, etc. There was one student that took her hoodie and folded it within itself to appear to be a bundled new born baby and she laughed with her neighbors as they made cute baby noises.
I understand that one glimpse into a classroom doesn’t represent all day or everyday since each class and student in it is unique. Therefore, I made sure to debrief with each teacher after the class to make sense to how it functioned, asked questions to clarify observations and of course asked for any candid advice that they teacher would be willing to give. I learned a great deal that day. The most important thing that I learned that day was that it was impossible for every teacher to teach the same content using the same book, worksheet/activity, class management and personality. We are human not a robot – even after presentation practice (the lesson). This discovery made me really think about downfall of even trying to make everything “aligned” between the 6th grade math teachers. Every student is different, each mix of students in a class is different, the reception of each set of content is different for each class, learning time is cut short for some classes due to school and federal holidays, etc. It goes on and on. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with the difficulties that were presented to me rather I was frustrated with how we were constantly given directives that clearly didn’t consider these things.